In a segment on CBS News’ Sunday Morning show, contributor and Yahoo Finance tech critic David Pogue examines the low rate of hearing aid adoption in comparison to the percentage of people over 70 with hearing difficulties. A video of the segment as well as a written transcription was published on the CBS News website on August 11.
Dr Frank Lin, a well-known researcher in the field of hearing loss and cognition, ear surgeon, and professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, was quoted in the segment as saying, “On average, about 20% of adults who have a hearing loss actually use a hearing aid.” Lin pointed to the average price for a pair of hearing aids—about $4,700—as a costly out-of-pocket for most Americans, the third most expensive purchase after a house and car.

Pogue highlights the fact that most insurance plans don’t cover the cost of hearing aids, as well as the stigma and perceived difficulty of obtaining them.

Though it’s unknown at this point whether the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act, set to go into effect in 2020, will motivate more people with hearing loss to purchase devices by allowing them to be sold directly to consumers, it may remove some barriers to entry.

Lin, who advocated with his team for the bill’s passage in Congress, according to CBS News, believes that it will be beneficial for those with mild hearing loss who may not need customized hearing aids.

In response to how Lin thinks the OTC Act will affect large hearing aid companies, he’s quoted as saying, “It’s an industry, and a profession, and a practice that’s been built up over the last several decades. And now we’re disrupting the model. If we think hearing is so important for public health, then that’s how we need to advance the field.”

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Source: CBS News